Alvaro Bautista was one of four 250cc stars making a MotoGP debut during testing at Valencia on Monday.
Unlike Marco Simoncelli, Hiroshi Aoyama and Hector Barbera, Bautista is entering the premier-class as a full factory rider, for Suzuki, having taken the place of Chris Vermeulen.
Bautista - the 2006 125cc world champion and an eight-time race winner in the 250cc class - was also making his four-stroke debut at the test and finished the day with 52 laps under his belt, the best of which was a 1min 35.772sec.
That was 0.543sec behind top rookie Simoncelli (Gresini Honda), although the Italian has previous experience on a four-stroke, including a podium finish in the Imola World Superbike round.
But Bautista was comfortably clear of both Sunday's 250GP winner Barbera (Aspar Ducati) and 250cc world champion Hiroshi Aoyama (Scot Honda) - and his best lap was only 0.853sec slower than Vermeulen's best race lap.
“We have been delighted to see Álvaro riding the bike today - as well as him smiling a lot and basically enjoying himself,” declared Rizla Suzuki team manager Paul Denning. “He has never ridden a four-stroke motorcycle before - let alone a MotoGP machine - so to make a lap-time in the 1min 35sec within 50 laps of riding the GSV-R is very encouraging. He is already starting to feel a part of the bike and the team. Overall from both sides it has been a good first day of the test, so let's hope we can continue upwards tomorrow.”
Crew chief Tom O'Kane also felt Bautista had made a positive first impression.
“I would firstly like to welcome Álvaro to the team and the whole crew is looking forward to working with him,” he said. “I have been very impressed by the way he took to the bike today and his feedback has been excellent considering it is his first time on a MotoGP machine. His times are also very pleasing, but that is not the important thing right now. We need to get him familiarised with the bike and then we can start making adjustments and improvements that will help him to improve on his times. He has already gelled with the team and he looks like being a big asset to Suzuki.”
On the other, far more experienced side, of the Suzuki pits Loris Capirossi used the short afternoon session to begin testing new components for the 2010 GSV-R. The Italian began by evaluating a new cowling designed to improve cornering confidence in windy conditions and also tested some new Akrapovic exhaust systems.
Capirossi was 13th and last of the full time MotoGP riders, with his best lap time of 1min 34.144sec all but equally his best lap on the way to 14th in the race.
“The test this afternoon has not been too bad for us, because the weather was so similar to yesterday we were able to do back-to-back comparisons on a couple of things without having to worry about outright lap-times,” he claimed. “We will make some big changes tomorrow because we have a lot of time and also a lot of things to try. We got a better feeling today than we had all weekend and the new cowling and pipes certainly made a bit of difference. It will be really important to get a full day tomorrow and make sure we understand the direction we are going in. I think already that the direction for 2010 is clear and that we can improve a lot.”
“The new cowling design that Loris tested was not a fundamental fix, but it has certainly helped his confidence,” stated Denning. “Although the ultimate lap-time isn't important the biggest benefit has been that his consistency and rhythm has improved a great deal. Along with some other detailed test items it has been a productive afternoon for Loris and small first step towards improving our level in 2010.”
Rizla Suzuki will test for a full day on Tuesday and another half-day on Wednesday morning.